The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about loaves splitting?

breadprincess's picture

Question about loaves splitting?


Just wondering if anyone else has ever had a problem with their loaves of bread splitting on top while it's rising. I live on a farm with my parents and siblings--we raise our own wheat and mill it ourselves. It's a hard red wheat. I bake bread to sell and its aggravating when the loaves split and aren't ''sellable'' any more. I use all whole wheat freshly ground. I've tried everything I can think of but it's still splitting sometimes. Sometimes it's just a little split and other times it goes across the whole top of the loaf. And sometimes a whole batch will be fine and the next time every loaf will be split. The ingredients I use are fresh ground flour (it does make a difference!), water, oil, honey, yeast and salt. I have a hobart mixer so I don't have to do it by hand which is nice. I can mix seven loaves at a time--that's how many fits in our oven. Any suggestions would be helpful!!


karin63's picture


Your problem with the loaves spliiting has to do with rising. You can make a split in the top of the loaves before putting them in the oven. In that way they van rise without making "their own split". Or you can try extra steam in the oven. In a moist enviroment they can rise without a crust forming (and splitting). Simply set an old baking pan in the bottom of your oven. Put some boiling water in it when you put your loaves in the oven. Mist the sides of the oven with water. Close the oven and bake your loaves as normal.
If you still have problems with splitting then perhaps you leave them to rise for to long. In that case you get "overrise". Solving this is easy, just put them in the oven a little bit earlier.
Succes! Karin
Excuse my spelling, I'am Dutch.

davidanderson5033's picture

While I can tell by the comments of other readers that most have more experience than I do, maybe some of these will help. The recipes for Italian bread that I make all have at least a 1 to 4 unbleached all-purpose to durum wheat flour. I have also found that when using US flour I have to add 1 tablespoon of gluten for every 110 gr. of all-purpose.

For covering the bread, depending on the type, I use the plastic wrap and a towel or just a damp towel.

Finally one thing I discovered making one of my mother-in-laws recipe (from Crema) is to relax the dough by pressing down and outward during the first 5 minutes after shaping.

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Could you be clearer about when the loaves are splitting, and what exactly you mean by a split?

Is it a crack in the crust, or a wide split? Does it happen while the loaves are in the oven, after they're cool, during initial proofing?

A little more info might help with the diagnosis. Some pictures would be excellent, as well.


breadprincess's picture

Sorry I wasn't more specific....I'll see what I can do about some pictures--don't have any right now. The loaves are splitting while I let them rise before baking them. And sometimes it is just a small crack that kinda spreads out as it bakes and other times it's a big split all the way along the loaf that looks like someone mangled it with a knife. ): I've tried not letting them rise as long but that affects the texture. I've tried less flour and more flour, less yeast and more yeast......I'm still just learning at baking bread so I don't know a whole lot about it. Let me know if you have any more questions.


qahtan's picture

I am by no means an expert on things like this, but I would think
maybe the tops of your loaves are drying a bit, hence the split,
but maybe a spray of water while in it's final rise to keep them moist may help.... qahtan

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JMonkey's picture

If you cover the rising loaves with Saran Wrap or something similar, that should keep a crust from forming during the rise. Sounds like the tops of the loaves are drying out, and then, as the bread rises, the "crust" cracks.

Sound right?

munkybread's picture

I'm cheap, i never buy saran wrap, so I use plastic bags from the grocery. You can cut them longways to cover a large loaf. or bag your bowl of rising dough, tucking the handles and the open part underneath the bowl. Great for storage of finished product as well.

qahtan's picture

For what it's worth I have heard that some grocery bags are not food grade........ ;-((( qahtan

JMonkey's picture

I only use the plastic bags they provide for vegetables. I'd expect they're food grade (I sure hope they are!), but don't know for sure. Anyone know for sure?

BTW, they work great for covering panned loaves!

qahtan's picture

With a small investment in some food grade bags you would
know for sure that they were safe,,,,,they also can be used over and over. qahtan

munkybread's picture

I'm cheap, i never buy saran wrap, so I use plastic bags from the grocery. You can cut them longways to cover a large loaf. or bag your bowl of rising dough, tucking the handles and the open part underneath the bowl. Great for storage of finished product as well. They can be re-used over and over
oops i posted that twice, sorry!

karin63's picture

Sorry, just didn't think about splitting during rising before you put your bread in the oven.. And yes, either your dough is a bit too dry, or it forms a dry crust during rising. To prevent that I just use a damp teatowel, cheap and easy. And for the best rise I warm my oven to 50 celcius. Turn it of, put a bowl of just boiled water on the bottom and then put my dough in the oven covered with a damp towel.
I know that more professional bakers use a small cupbord with a lamp for warmth and the same bowl of boiling water for moisture. Works wonders.

sphealey's picture

It can be hard to avoid the splitting with rye and pumpernickel recipes. My first 5 ryes were perfect, but since then I get a split or breakout at the bottom about 1 of 3 times.

You could also provide some mechanical support. This item is from Chicago Metallic but King Arthur claims it is exclusive to them:

If that pan had holes in it like Chicago Metallic's french bread pans I would buy it immediately.


ryan's picture

Since you use all whole wheat could it be too much? Maybe try less. I find whole wheat doesn't develop well during fermentation and therefore might be unsuitable for using 100% as your flour in your bread. Try less.

Happy Baking,

andrew_l's picture

I find that whole wheat needs rather more water than ordinary white flour. When I use whole wheat, I add quite a bit more water than usual (up to 10%) to make a fairly sloppy dough and leave it about 20 minutes before mixing - this allows the flour to absorb the water and swell. Then I mix for a very short time only - whole wheat prefers a very short kneading time.
It also comes out well with only a single proof - i.e. mix, brief knead, shape, proof and bake.
When I used to try to treat whole wheat like regular bread flour it used to regularly "split" but now it is much better behaved.

JMonkey's picture

I agree that whole wheat needs more liquid -- I suppose all the bran absorbs a lot of water. But I've not found whole wheat needs less mixing. I don't often do high hydration breads, though, so my experience might be off. Nevertheless, I make a 100% whole wheat sourdough loaf every weekend, and I have to knead 15 to 20 mintutes to get it to the point I want it. If I undernead, the loaf doesn't rise nearly as high.

I do an autolyse for about 30 minutes before adding salt -- that helps a TON.

andrew_l's picture

I use Dan Lepard's method of kneading with wholemeal and find it works great. Which is this - mix dough up and knead gently about 10 seconds. Leave 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry mixing bowl and lightly oil it.
Scrape dough off work surface into a ball hape, and knead gently for 10 seconds. Place in oiled bowl, cover, amd leave 10 minutes. Knead 10 seconds, place in bowl, cover and leave 30 minutes. Knead 10 seconds, cover and leave for I hour.
Next stage is to pat out dough lightly (trying not to deflate any bubbles) then fold in three, like folding paper to put in an envelope. Leave covered for an hour then repeat folding and leave for an hour.
Now shape, leave to prove until almost doubled and bake.
This method saves any hard kneading and helps to prevent the bran and rough bits in wholemeal flour from tearing the gluten strands. And produces well risen, well textured wholemeal bread!


luc's picture

In regards to 'food grade' plastic bags and other issues of storage I've started a thread here at this site.

If you have any info or can share any information on the topic please post in that thread. It could be a nifty resource for that kind of information... feel free to post a link or cut and paste and article (please provide or cite the original source if possible).

You can take a look at what I've posted so far right here:
Food Grade Plastic and Storage issues

Best regards,

a_hebb's picture

I have also been having problems with bread splitting while rising. I work in a small bakery and make several types of bread, however I've been having constant problems with on particular type. It's a multigrain bread consisting of 50% white and 50% whole wheat flour, it also contains 6 different seeds & grains. I have been unable to figure out what causes the splitting. It splits if it's too wet, it splits if it's too dry and sometimes it splits just because. It's very frustrating because the split loaves are unsellable and I have to make it twice on most days and it's costing time and money. If anyone has any ideas i would greatly appreciate any help.

Mike P's picture
Mike P

I spray vegetable oil on my rising bread and cover it with plastic wrap. Got it from Peter Reinharts book. Have you tried that??    Or else try slitting the top of your bread earlier than when its ready for oven. Then at least the split will be where you want it.